MERCEDES, Texas (ValleyCentral) — With trophy cases stuffed to the brim and flourishing students all around, Guy McKinney has a lot to admire from his two decades of work at Mercedes High School.

McKinney is the director of bands and fine arts at Mercedes High School. He co-directs the school’s marching band and oversees the orchestra and mariachi programs as well.

For 26 years, McKinney has directed Mercedes High to success on the regional and state level.

Guy McKinney, director of band and fine arts, oversees the marching band, mariachi, and orchestra programs at Mercedes High School.
(photo: Nathaniel Puente)

With a wealth of experience under his belt, McKinney says one of the keys to ensuring this success is through student recruitment.

McKinney and other staff members visit the four elementary schools and two middle schools in Mercedes throughout the year to get interested students involved early on.

Fitting students with the program that best matches them is a top priority for staff members as they want every performer to enjoy their instrument.

“Every program is a little different but some things are the same. In the end, the kids have to learn how to read music and play their instruments,” said McKinney. “The school gives us great support as far as supplying instruments.”

However, schools in smaller cities like Mercedes run into a unique issue of several students being involved in multiple activities. Many students involved in music programs are also involved in sports and other activities, creating scheduling conflicts that create constant planning for directors.

The programs see a variety of music chosen for their performances. The marching band is currently performing music with a rock n’ roll vibe, but will also be accustomed to playing Americana, movie soundtracks, and classical music.

Mercedes band tuba covers
(photo: Nathaniel Puente)

The Mercedes Tiger Band practiced all summer as is geared up for another great season on the field during football season.

“Our band has been doing amazing since we started practicing,” said McKinney. “We’ve had some great performances at our football games this year.”

McKinney noted that the band is preparing for the Queen City Marching Festival on October 2 in Mercedes. The festival is a competition between bands all across the RGV.

The mariachi and orchestra programs are not in their competition season at the moment, but McKinney stated they are quite successful as they’ve taken many First Division awards in recent competitions.

McKinney hopes that Mercedes High School soon adds a choir program, which is already present at Mercedes ISD at the middle school level.